Under Pressure

Photo Courtesy of BoingBoing.net
Photo Courtesy of BoingBoing.net

“Perhaps I’m being too tenacious but imagine 700 subtle messages a day. Alone they look harmless, but they build up pressure.”

I read that in a Livejournal community called “Kiss My Ass Vogue“, posted by a user named devi42. First, I’ll address the fact that yes, I use Livejournal. I rarely ever post anything on it anymore but I have stuck with it because I’ve been a member since I was in high school, and I love the communities. For example, some of the communities that I still love to check regularly are: vagina_pagina, sexual_health, menstrual_cups, good_eats, punk_knitters, and embarrassingly, ohnotheydidnt and topmodel.

For those who need help breaking it down, Livejournal is to blogs as Cro-Magnon man (person?) is to today’s human beings.

Anyway, I read the above quote in a post made in a community called kissmyassvogue. This community was inspired by a community called kissmyass_cosmo, which unfortunately I am no longer a member of.

You see, one day about a year and a half ago, one of the moderators of kissmyass_cosmo made a poll regarding various feminist topics of discussion. Upon finding that about half of the members of the community sometimes wore makeup and shaved their legs but still had the audacity to call themselves feminists, the moderator made a post calling all such members idiots and kicking them out of the community. I just happened to be one of those members (black eyeliner is my daily makeup routine, and I shave not only my legs but my arms – they’re tattooed!).

kissmyassvogue became the sanctuary for less hairy feminists like myself, who still wanted to have meaningful discussions about women’s issues and sexism without getting their heads bitten off for perpetuating media-driven standards of female beauty. (For the record, I don’t think women need to wear makeup, just I like I don’t think women need to wear bras, but, as with abortion, I believe every woman has a right to choose! Yes, I just compared wearing eyeliner to having an abortion.)

Anyway, the above quote was in reference to an article found on MSN.com about losing weight. The following sentence was used:

See why starving yourself isn’t the only option if you’re looking to shed some extra pounds.

As devi42 pointed out in her post, the sentence above implies that starving oneself is in fact an accepted option that should (or rather has to, as insinuated by the “only”) be considered when trying to lose weight.

This alone is not exactly a big deal. Plenty of people today equate the term “starving yourself” with the concept of dieting. They may not actually believe that being on a diet means eating no food (hence, starving), but they’re comfortable with the comparison. Therefore, a sentence like this is tolerable (to most). It won’t necessarily alter your psyche or change your way of thinking on its own.

However, imagine reading 700 similar sentences every day. Sentences that aren’t saying, “You should starve yourself”, but imply that it’s an acceptable thing to do. Sentences that don’t say, “Women are worthless”, but imply that men are superior to them. Sentences that don’t say, “You aren’t good enough”, but imply that other people are better than you. 

Now imagine soaking the subtle messages of those sentences in, one at a time, and how they could build up as they are continuously pushed on you. Then imagine the effect that could have on your psyche, or how that could change your way of thinking. Imagine how it could affect your perception of everyday life, or how it could affect the way you live your life.

Considering that essentially I went to school to become a part of it, I don’t particularly enjoy demonizing the media. But it is just not okay to create an atmosphere that encourages people to think this way. If these ideas, slowly washing over women, have the capability to make them feel insecure, inferior and ugly, what are they doing to men? Confirming that women aren’t good enough – will never be as good as - them? Reinforcing those unattainable standards of beauty that we are all expected to live up to? Asserting that we, women, still aren’t working hard enough to be that unrealistic ideal held in so many minds?

And you thought you were just reading an article about how to lose weight.

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